SHILLONG, Feb 14 (IANS): The Central government was unlikely to accede to the Garo National Liberation Army's (GNLA) demand for a separate state for Garo tribals in western part of Meghalaya, former union home secretary G.K. Pillai said Tuesday.
"The centre has not acceded to the creation of Telangana, Gorkhaland and Bodoland. Therefore, I don't think the government will give in to their (GNLA) demand for a separate Garoland," Pillai told IANS.
The GNLA, which is headed by police officer-turned outlaw Champion R. Sangma, is fighting for Garoland in the three impoverished districts of Garo Hills to be carved out of Meghalaya.
Indian intelligence officials believe Champion has been "arrested" by Bangladesh's Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) commandos Nov 23, 2011, from Haluaghat in Mymensingh district of that neighbouring country.
Asked if New Delhi would extend an olive branch to the GNLA for talks to ensure peace in the insurgency-ravaged Garo Hills, Pillai said: "It is up to them. The government is always in favour of peace and dialogue but they would first have to surrender arms."
Expressing concern over the deteriorating law and order situation in Meghalaya, he said: "The GNLA is more like a bunch of criminals and therefore the state government must put efforts to neutralise it. The government must also make its presence felt in terms of governance in those areas."
The GNLA, which has over 100 rebels, including a few women cadres, operating in three impoverished districts of western Meghalaya - East Garo Hills, West Garo Hills and South Garo Hills - has been declared a terrorist outfit due to its growing terror activities.
Over 30 people, including security personnel, have been killed while more than 10 people were abducted for ransom by GNLA rebels in the last one year.
The Achik National Volunteers Council (ANVC), which is currently observing a tripartite ceasefire with the central and the state governments, had scaled down its demand for a separate Garoland state to an autonomous council, like the Bodoland Territorial Council.
The Hill State People's Democratic Party, a key ally in the ruling Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance government, also has been demanding a separate state for the tribal Khasi-Jaintia people since 1987. The HSPDP has two legislators in the 60-member House.